Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Susse Frères Black Softwood Box (1839), update

First Camera Makes $775,000
The Susse Frères Black Softwood Box (1839)
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Mike O'Donoghue writes to tell us that "the Susse Frères black softwood box (1839) went for 480,000€ Saturday at the Westlicht auction here in Vienna. That makes 576,000€ [about $775,000 or £390,400] with fees."

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Legendary 1839 Susse Frères

The Legendary 1839 Susse Frères
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On Saturday, May 26th, the Vienna auction house WestLicht will auction what will very likely become the world's most valuable camera. For most of photography's history, the oldest commercially produced cameras were thought to be those manufactured by Daguerre's brother-in-law Alphonse Giroux, of which some ten survive. But behind the Giroux was a mystery: it was known that a sliding-box Daguerreotype camera had been advertised by a Paris firm called Susse Frères a mere ten days before the first announcement of the Giroux. No examples were known, and for many years it was doubted that any had ever existed.



Lens Detail
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Until, that is, one turned up recently in Germany. The camera to be auctioned by WestLicht is essentially an "attic find." "It was originally owned by Prof. Max Seddig (1877–1963)," reads the auction description, "who was the director of the Institute of Applied Physics in Frankfurt am Main and, among other things, godfather to the founding of the Josef Schneider Optical Works in Kreuznach. Seddig gave the camera to his assistant, Günter Haase, as a present. The latter was later Professor at the Department of Scientific Photography at the University of Frankfurt and, from 1970 on, occupied the Chair for Scientific Photography at the Technical University of Munich. Prof. Günter Haase died on February 20th 2006 at the age of 88 and left the camera to his son, Prof. Wolfgang Haase."Numerous experts attest that it is very likely the oldest commercially-produced camera in the world."Previously, the world's most valuable camera was believed to be the surviving Ur-Leica of Oskar Barnack, owned by Leica AG, of Solms, Germany, although it has never been sold. Opening bid for the legendary Susse Frères will be 100,000 Euros, and the selling price is believed likely to exceed half a million Euros.

by: MIKE JOHNSTON, with thanks to Frames, the CameraArts newsletter

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tête de Saint-Jean Baptiste, modèle au plateau, version de face by Auguste Rodin

Tête de Saint-Jean Baptiste, modèle au plateau, version de face

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Gallery: Robert Bowman Gallery

Tête de Saint-Jean Baptiste, modèle au plateau, version de face Bronze
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Height 7 inches (17.8 cm)
Signed A.Rodin and inscribed with the foundry mark A.Rudier. Fondeur. Paris.
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Conceived circa 1887; this bronze version was cast circa 1930. The work was cast in an unknown edition size, firstly by Francois Rudier, then Alexis Rudier and finally four casts were cast by Georges Rudier for the Musée Rodin between 1965 and 1974.

Rodin created his life-size figure of St. John the Baptist preaching in 1878. He returned to the subject of St. John almost ten years later in 1887. This time he dealt with the end of the saint?s life, the moment when Salome, tutored by her mother, has requested the head of St. John on a platter, from King Herod as a reward for her erotic dancing. The subject was a popular one at the time with variations on the theme being produced by Antokolski in 1879 and Carriés in 1881.

Rodin made two versions of the subject, the first showing the severed head on its side resting on a large platter, the second with the head resting on its back. The present example is of the second type which can also be seen at the top of the Gates of Hell. Versions of the work were also carved in marble and exhibited at the Monet-Rodin Exhibition in 1889 and the Exposition Rodin in 1900.

To be included in the forthcoming Catalogue critique de L’Oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin being prepared by the Comité Rodin under archive no. 2004V517B.
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Provenance
Frances Leventritt, New York
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Literature
John L Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976, pp.205-207 illustration 21-3, 21-4Dominique Jarrasse, Rodin, A Passion for Movement, Editions Pierre Terrail, 1992, illustrated p.45

Pendule en bronze de RAVRIO, époque Empire

Pendule en bronze de RAVRIO, époque Empire

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Dealer: Galerie Antoni


A set of portable jockey scales by W&T Avery ( 1870 )

A set of portable jockey scales by W&T Avery ( 1870 )

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Dealer: Ronald Phillips Ltd


Dimensions: 213.50cm wide 259.00cm high 104.00cm deep (84.06 inches wide 101.97 inches high 40.94 inches deep)


Description / Expertise: An impressive set of late 19th century brass jockey scales, the central four- legged ‘A’ frame with a central arm suspending a faded green leather upholstered oak seat counter balanced by a suspended platform for weights, together with the complete set of iron weights. Stamped ‘W&T Avery, Birmingham’.

The firm of W & T Avery has a long and illustrious history associated with Birmingham and the Industrial Revolution. The firm was founded by the partnership of two brothers, William and Thomas Avery, in 1813 specialising in the manufacture of weighing scales and machines, a vital instrument in Britain’s explosive rise in domestic and international commercial dominance in the 19th century. The firm soon established themselves as market leaders and in 1895 bought James Watt & Co occupying the legendary site of the famous Soho Foundry, founded by Matthew Boulton (1728 - 1809) and James Watt (1736 - 1819), where the famous purpose built steam engines were made. The range of their machines ranged from high precision weighing scales for medical purposes to this huge example suitable for weighing jockeys to calculate their horse’s handicap before a race. From the late 19th century the firm was described as the finest weighing machine factory of the world and continued to diversify and prosper under the able managing director William Hipkins who was to perish aboard the Titanic in 1912. The firm continues at its original site and, now under the American ownership of Weigh Tronic, still ranks as a world leader in its field. Avery made other jockey scales but these are the most elaborate as well as being portable so they could be taken from racecourse to racecourse. They are accompanied by the original set of weights ranging from 8oz to 56lbs. The accuracy of these scales is extraordinary and is emphasised by the small hanging receptacle positioned above the weights that would finally be filled with buckshot to measure his precise weight to the last fraction of an ounce. We are grateful to Mr John Doran, museum curator of Avery Weight-Tronix, for the additional information in cataloguing this piece and to Mr Frankie Dettori for kindly testing it for us!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Hilbert: Important French and English Furniture

Sale Title The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Hilbert: Important French and English Furniture
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Location New York, Rockefeller Plaza - Sale Date SESSION 1 24 May 07 10:00 AM.
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Lot Number 29 - Sale Number N08383
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AN IMPORTANT LOUIS XVI ORMOLU-MOUNTED TULIPWOOD AND MARQUETRY COMMODE A VANTAUX CIRCA 1770, STAMPED M. CARLIN, RETAILED BY SIMON-PHILIPPE POIRIER
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700,000—1,000,000 USD
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MEASUREMENTS
measurementsheight 35 3/4 in.; width 57 in.; depth 21 in.
alternate measurements90.5 cm; 145 cm; 53.5 cm

DESCRIPTION
with a red Verona marble top, the frieze with three drawers and mounted all around with ormolu guilloche enclosing flowerheads, the case with three cupboard doors veneered with panels of trellis marquetry enclosing flowerheads on a sycamore ground surrounded by leaf-chased ormolu borders, the interior fitted with drawers; the canted corners surmounted by rosettes above a draped ormolu torso, the apron centered by an ormolu bearded mask flanked by acanthus leaves, raised on ormolu-mounted tapered feet.
Bearing the ink inscription: Poirier Md Rue St Honore a Paris
Martin Carlin, maitre in 1766Simon-Philippe Poirier, fl. 1742-1777

PROVENANCE
Probably acquired by David, 7th Viscount Stormont (later 2nd Earl of Mansfield), in Paris, c. 1772.
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The Earls of Mansfield and Mansfield, Scone Palace, sold, Sotheby's, London, December 8, 1967, lot 142
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Collection of Georges Wildenstein, New York
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Collection of Akram Ojjeh, sold, Sotheby's, Monaco, June 25-26, 1979, lot 50
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Sir Charles Clore, sold, Christie's, Monaco, December 6, 1985, lot 54
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Partridge Fine Arts, London
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EXHIBITED
Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, 1965-67
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LITERATURE AND REFERENCES
A. Coleridge, "Furniture in the Collection of the Earl of Mansfield," The Connoisseur, May 11, 1966, p. 15, illustrated, fig. 20 A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, k 1989, p. 350, illustrated
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CATALOGUE NOTE
David Murray, seventh Viscount Stormont and second earl of Mansfield (1727–1796). Stormont served as Ambassador in Vienna from 1763, and by the time of his appointment as Ambassador in Paris in 1772, he had become an important adviser to ministers and was a political confidant of George III. This was a period of deteriorating relations between France and England, and it fell to Stormont to preside over the diplomacy which ultimately led to a declaration of war in 1778. He was created Earl of Mansfield on the death of his uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield PC (b.1705). The 1st Earl was himself a collector and patron of the arts, he is particularly remembered as a patron of Robert Adam's at Kenwood; he also had a celebrated library in his London residence in Bloomsbury Square, which was destroyed during the Gordon riots in 1780. The 1st Earl spent the summer of 1774 in the Embassy in Paris, as his nephew's guest, and it has been suggested that it was at this time that the nucleus of the Mansfield collection of French furniture might have been formed (Coleridge, op. cit. p. 239).Martin Carlin (c.1730-1785) was one of the celebrated group of Parisian ébénistes who were of German origin. Little is known of his early life or apprenticeship, but his marriage in 1759 to Jean-Francois Oeben's sister, establishes that he was settled in Paris and in the company of other German and Flemish craftsmen. Both Oeben and Roger Vandercruse were witnesses to his marriage. Established as an independent craftsman by 1763, Carlin started to supply furniture to Simon-Philippe Poirier. In 1766 Carlin became a master ébéniste and continued to fulfill Poirier's numerous commissions, most notably for furniture to be fitted with porcelain plaques. Between 1766 and 1778 approximately one-third of his production consisted of commissions from Poirier. The fashionable taste for porcelain-mounted furniture was only equalled by the equally fashionable taste for furniture decorated with Japanese lacquer panels, and Carlin supplied numerous pieces for Poirier's partner and successor Dominique Daguerre. Carlin also, of course, supplied a great deal of furniture embellished with fine wood marquetry panels, particularly panels which incorporate trellis and flowerhead patterns as on the present commode. Simon-Philippe Poirier (c.1720-1785) was received into the guild of the Parisian marchands merciers in 1742. In the same year he married the daughter of Michel Hécéguère, a mercier, who was also the niece of the celebrated marchand Hébert. He and his wife joined his in-laws in the building occupied by them at 85 rue Saint Honoré, "A la Couronne d’Or." This partnership continued until the death of Hébert in 1753, at which time their distinguished clientèle included the Prince de Soubise, the Prince de Condé, the Garde Meuble Royal, the Duchesse de Maine and others. Also recorded at the time the inventory of the business was taken were the leading ébénistes of the day, such as Bernard van Risamburg, Joseph Baumhauer, and Roger Vandercruse.
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Poirier continued to run this highly successful business becoming, arguably, the most important marchand mercier of his generation. In 1758 he started to order porcelain plaques from the Sèvres factory to be mounted on furniture. Between 1753 and 1770 it is safe to say that virtually all the furniture mounted with porcelain passed through his hands, and it was during this period that he employed the services of Martin Carlin. This luxurious production attracted ever more illustrious clients, including Madame du Barry, the Comte de Provence, the Marquis de Marigny, and the Comtesse d’Artois, among others. Poirier entered into a partnership with his cousin, Dominique Daguerre in 1770, and it was during this period that they cultivated their foreign clientèle, notably including a number of British aristocrats. This would be increasingly important to Daguerre after he assumed the direction of the business in 1777. Commode à la Grecque This commode is a refinement of the commode à la Grecque, which had been conceived for Madame de Pompadour before 1763 and made by Jean-François Oeben. The design for the present version appears to have been owned by Poirier, but appears to be the only commode à vantaux incorporating as it does drawers concealed behind a cupboard door. A commode with three long drawers was purchased from Poirier in 1763 by Lord Coventry, one of his most important English clients. This had been made to Poirier’s order by Roger Vandercruse (Christie’s, New York, November 2, 2000, lot 264). The Coventry commode is nearly identical to another, attributed to Carlin, designed with two central drawers flanked by narrow cupboard doors (Laura collection, Sotheby’s, Paris, June 27, 2001, lot 52). The present piece is, however, most closely comparable with a commode in the Riahi collection (D. Langeois, Quelques chef d’oeuvre de la collection Djanhanguir Riahi, Milan, 2000, p. 212). Except for the fact that the Riahi commode is fitted with four long drawers (including the frieze drawer) which are fitted with ormolu drapery handles, the two are identical in size and in most details. The Riahi commode is not stamped but that they were produced in the same workshop is indisputable, and the possibility that they were produced as a pair cannot be dismissed.
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The ormolu mounts and the highly distinctive corner mounts depicting draped vestal virgins are found on a number of other pieces made by Martin Carlin, and may have belonged to Poirier: A secrétaire à abattant, illustrated, A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, 1989, p. 347 Another secrétaire à abattant virtually identical, from the collection of Mrs. Richard Wallace, sold, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, December 17, 1949, illustrated, Nicolay, L’art et la manière des maîtres ébénistes français au XVIII siècle, Paris, 1956, p. 92, fig. K
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Another secrétaire à abattant sold from the collection of the duc de Vendôme, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, December 4, 1931, lot 99 The commode in the Riahi collection, referred to above. A commode a vantaux in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, unstamped, illustrated, G. Laking, Furniture at Windsor Castle, London, 1905, pl. 36 A console formerly in the collections of both Madame de Poles and subsequently Mrs. Richard Wallace, most recently sold from the Riahi collection, Christie’s, New York, November 2, 2000, lot 29 Martin Carlin and Jean-Henri Riesener both employed the fondeur André Ravrio, which may suggest that he was the author of these distinctive chutes. Further, Ravrio supplied mounts for Oeben in 1763 who was not only Carlin’s brother-in-law, but also was the first husband of Madame Riesener. Riesener used these chutes and, interestingly, an apron mount which is almost identical to the one on the present commode on two secrétaires à abattant. The first, now in the Wallace collection, was delivered for the cabinet intérieur of Marie Antoinette at Versailles in July 1780, illustrated, P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Furniture, London, 1996, Vol. II, pp. 969-979. The second, now in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva, Michelham Bequest, is illustrated, A. Pradère, French Furniture Makers, Paris, p. 380, fig. 461. The apron mount on the present commode is very similar to one which appears on furniture made by a number of different cabinetmakers, such as Foullet, RVLC, René Dubois, and, as noted above, Riesener. There are slight variations which appear to make the present mount unique and, therefore, possibly, the property of Poirier. The presence of the Poirier inscription on the present piece is extremely rare but not unprecedented; it is also on a bureau en pente made by Bernard van Risamburg, illustrated, C. Sargentson, Merchants and Luxury Markets, London, 1996, pl. 3.

The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Hilbert: Important French and English Furniture


Sale Title The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Hilbert: Important French and English Furniture
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Location New York, Rockefeller Plaza Sale Date SESSION 1 24 May 07 10:00 AM.
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Lot Number 23 - Sale Number N08383
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A FINE PAIR OF EMPIRE ORMOLU AND CUT-GLASS SWEETMEAT DISHES AND A MATCHING ORMOLU AND CUT-GLASS TAZZA CIRCA 1815-20, SIGNED THOMIRE A PARIS 12,000—18,000 USD
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MEASUREMENTS
measurementsheights 14 in.; 10 1/4 in.; diameters 8 3/4 in.; 10 3/4 in. alternate measurements 35.5 cm; 26 cm; 22 cm; 27 cm
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DESCRIPTION
the sweetmeat dishes with two graduated circular bowls supported by a baluster-shaped leaf-cast ormolu standard surmounted by a ring, raised on S-scrolled supports above a concave-sided base; the tazza with a cut-glass bowl above matching S-scrolled supports and a flared leaf-cast socle and circular base. 3 pieces.
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Pierre-Philippe Thomire 1751-1843, was one of the most important bronziers of the ancien régime and the post-revolutionary period. Trained as a sculptor, Thomire worked in the workshop of Pierre Gouthière before establishing his own business in 1775. Shortly thereafter, Thomire assisted Jean-Claude-Thomas Duplessis, who was the artistic director of the Sèvres manufactory. When he died in 1783, Thomire was awarded the appointment and he supplied all the ormolu mounts which were required for certain pieces made at Sèvres. It was this work which helped him to survive the Revolution, a period when many other bronziers fell into bankruptcy. Thanks to the dissolution of the guild system after the Revolution, Thomire was able to greatly expand his business and he sold not only Sèvres porcelain with his inimicable mounts, but also all manner of bronzes d'ameublement as well as furniture.
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PROVENANCE
Galerie Camoin, Paris
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CATALOGUE NOTE
The design of overlapping foliate motifs appears on other comparable pieces by Thomire, see a pair of sweetmeat dishes fitted with three tiers above a group of putti, illustrated, Ottomeyer, Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, Vol. I, p. 387, pl. 5.16.13. These are part of a complete "surtout de table." An ormolu tazza, also by Thomire, incorporates the same design of overlapping foliage, illustrated, Ottomeyer, op. cit. p. 386, pl. 5.16.10. See also identical baluster-shaped, fluted and leaf-cast supports on a two-tier sweetmeat dish in Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen, ibid. p. 385, pl. 5.16.8.